In Chesapeake by James A Michener, what happens In Voyage 1?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chesapeake by James A Michener, the story begins with Voyage 1 in 1583. Pentaquod, a Susquehannocks, is a peace-loving Indian but this goes against his tribe which believes that its ability to thrive is based on its fighting prowess. An old warrior warns Pentaquod that the day "we are afraid to fight, we lose the river." Their livelihood is based around the "great" river. Rumors abound about Pentaquod because of his stance against a "meaningless" war and even children insult him which drives him to his decision to leave before the elders demand his banishment or even death, convincing themselves that he is spy for the Northern tribes.

Pentaquod, in order not to raise suspicion decides to leave quietly and deliberates over which canoe he should take. Having made his decision to take "the yellow," he knows he must outsmart those who are watching him on behalf of the council and, being fast, he is able to run, collect some paddles so that no one can follow him and push the canoe into the river. He watches the commotion on the bank as the tribe realizes that it cannot pursue him without paddles for the boats. Even though he is only twenty five, Pentaquod is wise and knows that his tribe will send word to other tribes in order to ensure his capture further down river so, because time is on his side, he manages to pass one village but is more cautious when he reaches the next. Fortunately, he passes without being seen. He even manages to negotiate the rapids, realizing that that will give him several days lead on his pursuers as they would not dare to take the same route as it is too treacherous.

After several days, Pentaquod reaches "Chesapeake,"  which means "the great river in which fish with hard shell coverings abound" and he is in awe. He had intended to join the Pontamac tribe, hopeful that they would accept him because of his stature but, on the river, he decides that he does not want to be a warrior so instead of turning towards the "turbulent western shore," he turns towards the "quieter eastern shore" which will be a turning point in what lies ahead.

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